The Fugitives; or, The Tyrant Queen of Madagascar
A group of people from a British ship have gone ashore to stretch their legs, when enemies approach, the ship's boat retreats to the ship and they are left stranded ashore. The book deals with their efforts to find what they hope will be civilisation in the capital of the Island of Madagascar, which is something like the size of France. Unfortunately the reigning Queen has a hatred of Christianity which had been brought to the Island by missionaries some forty years before. Our heroes find themselves assisted by a Christian net-work, but when they get to the capital they are appalled by the carnage and torture they find when the Queen has one of her rages against Christianity.
Based on fact, the story told here of the repression of Chritianity in an emerging nation was all too true. The Queen died in 1867, and was succeeded by her son, an altogether different person, at which point our heroes take ship for England, and the story ends.
The story is full of action, the only quibble being the long and rather similar names the Malagasy people who appear in the story have. This makes it sometimes rather hard to make out what is happening.
Robert Michael Ballantyne (1825-1894), A Short Biography, with acknowledgements to Chambers Biographical Dictionary.
Scottish author of boys' books, born in Edinburgh, a nephew of James and John Ballantyne, the printers. Educated at The Edinburgh Academy, he joined the Hudson's Bay Company in 1841, and worked as a clerk in the Red River Settlement in the backwoods of northern Canada until 1847, before returning to Edinburgh in 1848. He wrote his first stories on his experiences in Canada, with books such as The Young Fur Traders (1856). Coral Island (1858) is his most famous work.
After that he wrote over eighty books for boys, which were well researched, so that he gained a reputation which led to some of his books being written at the special request of the Post Office and the London Fire Brigade. He wrote marvellous books about the building of such lighthouses as the Eddystone and the Bell Rock. He also spent time aboard the Lightship in the Goodwin Sands, and was able to write a very informative novel about his experiences there. He produced about three books a year right up to the end of his life, but his earlier books are generally thought to be his best ones.
A PDF of scans and an HTML version of this book are provided. We also provide a plain TEXT version and full instructions for using this to make your own audiobook. To find these click on the PDF, HTML or TXT links on the left.
These transcriptions of books by various nineteenth century authors of instructive books for teenagers, were made during the period 1997 to the present day by Athelstane e-Books. Most of the books are concerned with the sea, but in any case all will give a good idea of life in the nineteenth century, and sometimes earlier than that. This of course includes attitudes prevalent at the time, but frowned upon nowadays.
We used a Hewlett-Packard scanner, a Plustek OpticBook 3600 scanner or a Nikkon Coolpix 5700 camera to scan the pages. We then made a pdf which we used to assist with editing the OCRed text.
To make a text version we used TextBridge Pro 98 or ABBYY Finereader 7 or 8 to produce a first draft of the text, and Athelstane software to find misreads and improve the text. We proof-read the chapters, and then made a CD with the book read aloud by either Fonix ISpeak or TextAloud MP3. The last step enables us to hear and correct most of the errors that may have been missed by the other steps, as well as entertaining us during the work of transcription.
The resulting text can be read either here at the Internet Archive or at www.athelstane.co.uk
The PDF version is constructed from 300 dpi scans. To get best value set "Use Logical Page Numbers" to "ON" in Edit/Preferences/Page Display of your PDF viewer. To obtain the HTML file find the area on the left of this page which has PDF, HTML and TXT in it, and click on HTML. In this version the entire book appears in the one file, which also includes the style-sheet and any pictures, and is written in xhtml. The larger of the two TXT files is what you need to create an audiobook, using for instance Text Aloud MP3. The smaller of the two TXT files contains full instructions for doing so.
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